High school students interested medical field get chance to learn from doctors this summer

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This summer, nearly 75 students from three different high schools are giving up their summer vacation to get some first-hand experience in the world of medicine.

Each one is part of the UCSF Fresno Doctor Academy Program where students shadow physicians at Central Valley Hospitals, including Kaiser Permanente.

"There is a big shortage of doctors all around, but I think in the Central Valley we have a specific population of elderly people, Hispanic people, underserved people who need care from their own people," said anesthesiologist Dr. Allen Tran.

Dr. Tran has worked at Kaiser for several years, but this is his first year mentoring. He's working with two students this summer and believes the medical world must capture their attention right away.

The Doctor Academy Program begins the freshmen year of each high school student involved. In recent years the academy focuses on underserved communities that include Caruthers, Selma and Sunnyside High Schools.

"Through Doctor's Academy, I'm able to become more open-minded and see other things. Before I didn't know what a needle made nurse was or what's a trauma surgeon. So it has definitely more than changed my mind, it has changed the way I look at medicine," said Ly Ia, Sunnyside High School Senior.

Two to three days a week, students shadow their mentor seeing everything from patient consultation, interviews, and exams.

One critical care doctor is glad this offers a point of view into the profession she didn't have.

"I had no idea what I was getting into. I just had this idea of what I thought a doctor was, and then I went to medical school. So I think it is great that they get to see what we do day to day of what we do," said Dr. Elisa Avik, who specializes in pulmonary critical care.

Some students are returning for a second tour of the academy and feel teaming up with a different type of doctor gives them a new perspective.

"Last year I go to see a lot of OB-GYN stuff, and I found that wasn't for me. But this time with the operating room doctor I really enjoyed it, and so I think I want to go into surgery and become a surgeon," said Megan Hernandez, a Sunnyside High School Senior.

The Doctor Academy Program was established in 1999 and is expanding to middle schools with a junior doctor academy program.
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